The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on Monday filed in the Supreme Court its preliminary enquiry report, in a sealed cover, about CBI director Alok Kumar Verma who has been divested of his duties and sent on leave in view of allegations of corruption against him.
The allegations have been levelled against Verma by his deputy Rakesh Asthana, Special Director at the agency, against whom an FIR has been lodged by the CBI on graft charges. Asthana was also sent on leave by the Centre.
Acting CBI director M Nageswara Rao also filed in a sealed cover the decisions taken by him from October 23-26.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul took both the reports on record and fixed the matter for further hearing on November 16.
The CVC and Rao placed three copies of their reports in compliance with the October 26 order.
“Report of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) with regard to the preliminary enquiry held in respect of the petitioner – Alok Kumar Verma…In the sealed cover, has been submitted in Court on Monday by Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General,” the bench said.
Similarly, the apex court noted in its order that the report of the orders passed by the acting director was filed in a sealed cover, in terms of the earlier order of the Court dated October 26, 2018, by Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha.
“Both the aforesaid reports are taken on record. All the matters will be considered on Friday next i.E. November 16, 2018,” the bench said.
Mehta, appearing for the CVC, told the court that former apex court judge A K Patnaik has supervised the CVC inquiry as directed by the apex court and the probe was completed on November 10.
The CJI then observed that the Registry was open on Sunday for one hour but neither the reports were filed nor any intimation was given to the Registrar regarding their filing.
“On Sunday we kept the registry opened for one hour but neither the reports were filed nor any intimation was given. How long will the Registrars wait?,” the CJI said.
The Solicitor General later tendered an apology and said though he was not explaining the circumstances, there was a delay on their part in submitting the report.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for NGO ‘Common Cause’ said, they (CVC) opened their offices at 2 AM on October 23 to pass orders against the CBI director, but they could not file their report on time in the court.
Dave claimed before the bench that despite the apex court order, the acting CBI director is continuing to take important decisions.
However, the bench said, “We cannot interfere in everything. The spirit of our earlier order was that no major policy decision should be taken.”
On October 26, the top court had appointed Justice Patnaik to supervise the ongoing inquiry of CVC against Verma.
The apex court had issued notices to the Centre and the CVC seeking their replies on Verma’s petition challenging the government’s decision to divest him of his powers as CBI chief and sending him on leave.
On October 26, it had also set a deadline of two weeks for the CVC to complete the preliminary inquiry against the CBI director.
Besides, it had barred Rao from taking any major policy decision but granted him liberty to perform routine tasks that are essential to keep the CBI functional.
It had said that a list of all the decisions taken by Rao since October 23 including decisions with regard to transfer of investigations, change of investigating officer(s) etc will be furnished to the court in a sealed cover on or before November 12, 2018, whereafter orders as would be appropriate will be passed by the court.
Mehta had said that the CVC has been conducting an inquiry into the allegations made in the August 24 note/letter of the Cabinet Secretary with regard to Verma.
Besides the plea filed by Verma, the court is also seized of the PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, which has sought a probe by special investigation team against CBI officers including Asthana, and had issued notices to the Centre, CBI, CVC, Asthana, Verma and Rao asking them to respond to it by November 12.
Asthana has also moved the apex court with a separate petition in the matter and has sought removal of Verma from the post of CBI Director.
On November 4, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had moved the top court contending that divesting Verma of his statutory powers and functions is “completely illegal and arbitrary”.
In an interlocutory application filed in the pending petition, Kharge, who is also a member of the three-member selection committee which appoints the CBI director, said that “as a concerned stakeholder he brings to the attention of the court the brazen and illegal actions” of the political executive in interfering with the independent functioning of the CBI director. PTI